Two pieces of legislation are set to transform digital marketing in the European Union (EU).

The good news: these changes might motivate brands and publishers across the globe to address their very real shortcomings in the digital space.

"What I want to impress on you is the change that is happening now is a reason – or an excuse – for us to get back to the basics of media that works," Johnny Ryan, Head of Ecosystem at anti-ad blocking solutions provider PageFair, told delegates at the World Federation of Advertisers' (WFA) 2017 Global Marketer Week.

"And that means the discussion about digital, as it matures past its very immature stage now, should start to sound much more like a discussion about print, or radio, or TV – in other words, media that actually function the way they should."

As a starting point, Ryan referenced the two regulatory interventions by the European Union – the world's biggest single digital market, with 315 million people using the web each day in 28 countries – which will significantly impact marketers upon coming into force in May 2018:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): This legislation states that digital platforms cannot use "long illegible terms and conditions full of legalese" when seeking consent from consumers to process personal data. Alongside being clearly distinguished from other issues, opting in or out (and changing these settings) of these arrangements must be easy.

    Additional features of the legislation include:
    • Right to Access: Individuals have the right to confirm whether, where and why their data is being processed – and to receive this information free of charge in electronic form.
    • Right To Be Forgotten: Consumers can have their personal data erased, instruct that it may no longer be disseminated, and potentially halt further processing by third parties.
    • Privacy by Design: Data protection should be considered at "the onset of the designing of systems."
    • Data Minimization: A company should "hold and process only the data absolutely necessary for the completion of its duties."